Updated April 19, 2022
You’ve studied, practiced and enjoyed various kinds of writing for years. Whether crafting a novel, drafting an email, preparing a business report or tweeting a tweet, you have a true talent for structure, content and style.
While far from being another John Steinbeck or J.K. Rowling, you rarely feel pressured when communicating in writing. Friends, family and business associates always understand what you’ve written and might even compliment you on your structure and content.
You often find it uncomfortable and difficult to capture and convey your observations, thoughts and feelings in writing. Readers are sometimes confused when reading what you write and ask for clarification or verification of your content. Writing is a chore to be avoided when possible.
Well, regardless of how you categorize yourself as a writer, when it comes to MBA application essays, your skills and approach may be insufficient to maximize your chances for admission. And it’s not just you.
Ways Your MBA Application Essay is Different from Everything You’ve Ever Written
- Business schools each have their own criteria and priorities.
Depending on the profile they want for their incoming class, MBA admissions gatekeepers use essays to help decide which applicants would add the most value for classmates and the school itself. They never share this list of priorities. And this is a highly subjective process that can change from day to day, even hour to hour, as the admissions-decision date approaches.
- Essay readers have only minutes to assess what you wrote.
Admissions staff typically have a tall stack of applications awaiting their arrival each morning. So, you have precious little time to introduce yourself through essays and make a compelling case for admission. A mundane writing approach has no impact while a tedious, or unstructured essay is instantly annoying to readers who have another 20 or 30 apps to review.
- Word count limits are strict, stressful and distracting.
Most business schools state a word limit for essays. This constraint adds pressure if you feel the need to set up and/or summarize your story. Deciding which content is essential, worthy and beneficial can be very difficult. Any cuts are painful when so much time and thought have gone into each precious word.
- Authenticity is essential but should always be strategic.
Admissions officers often emphasize the importance of being “authentic” when preparing essays. This is appropriate and understandable. However, there’s an important difference between honesty and naiveté. Essay content needs to be honest and genuine, but that doesn’t mean volunteering unrequired information that can harm your chances for admission. Knowing what not to include in essays can be just as important as knowing what to include.
- There will be no critique or feedback, only an outcome.
Whether admitted or denied, you will never learn for certain if and how your essays determined the school’s decision. Essentially, you are putting a message in a bottle and tossing it into the sea, but never learning what the reader thought and felt. This reality is especially frustrating if you are a reapplicant!
What if there was a resource that could help you understand and overcome each of these issues when planning, preparing and refining your MBA essays? Well, how about TWO resources? First, an experienced admissions consultant can advise you on essay substance and structure that showcase your candidacy’s strengths and have proved effective at your target schools over the past several years. Second, a skilled essay editor can suggest subtle ways for you to add clarity, impact and differentiation while safeguarding your authentic voice. The MBA Exchange is among very few admissions consulting firms that offer both consultants and editors, working in tandem to ensure the quality and competitiveness of each applicant’s essays. In fact, we’ve been doing this for the past three decades for more than 5000 MBA applicants.
So, whether you’re a talented scribe, a nervous novice, or something in-between, engaging the expertise of an MBA admissions consultant and/or essay editor merits your serious consideration. Regardless of where you are today in the essay process – brainstorming possible topics, producing a skeletal outline, or polishing your latest narrative draft – contact us as there’s still time, opportunity and room for improvement.